With a lot of speculation surrounding Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck entering the 2011 Orange Bowl, Harbaugh led his Stanford team to a dominating 40-12 victory.
After quickly deflecting any questions aimed towards his future, it is unknown what he will do, but many NFL teams, such as the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos are in search of a head coach and would love to have Jim Harbaugh leading their organization.
The following slides show a list of the possibilities that current Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh has to choose from.
The San Francisco 49ers have recently asked the New York Giants for permission to interview their defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, for their head coaching spot. The Niners have also asked to interview Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, which means that San Francisco obviously has numerous options in which they would be satisfied with. The 49ers are also currently looking to fill their GM position which could postpone their search of a head coach.
Harbaugh is the leading candidate for the job as of now, but whether they get him or not, you can expect the 49ers to replace their current interim head coach, Jim Tomsula, with a better fit.
Pro Football Talk has reported that the Panthers plan on interviewing San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Carolina has also inquired about Fewell.
The Charlotte Observer claims that "despite national reports to the contrary, the Panthers have had contact with Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh for weeks."
It would be extremely interesting if Harbaugh was to get the job in Carolina, with the potential of selecting his beloved quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Miami Dolphins head coaching job is not yet vacant, but Tony Sparano may still be on his way out the door. If Sparano does eventually get the boot, Miami could be a real possibility for Jim Harbaugh.
The Miami Herald has reported that "after a long day of meetings, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and CEO Mike Dee stood on the Stanford sideline Monday before the Orange Bowl, calm and smiling as their general manager Jeff Ireland, was evaluating the talent on the field a few feet away."
Could this be more than just an evaluating visit? Did any conversations regarding Jim Harbaugh's future take place?
This we do not yet know, but the fact that Miami's owner and CEO were on Stanford's sideline could mean the end for Tony Sparano and a new beginning for Jim Harbaugh.
John Elway is expected to be announced as the Broncos' new VP of football operations. Elway was seen on Stanford's sidelines during the Orange Bowl on Monday, alongside Jim Harbaugh, which will begin to boost much speculation surrounding the current head coach vacancy in Denver.
So far, the only possibilities other than Harbaugh have been Ron Rivera, Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and Texans head coach Gary Kubiak if he was to lose his current job.
After their second straight 5-11 season, the Cleveland Browns decided to fire head coach Eric Mangini. Jon Gruden and Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell are atop Cleveland's list of head coach possibilities along with Stanford's Jim Harbaugh.
With a promising young quarterback in Colt McCoy, Harbaugh may be their favorite target with the success he has had with developing the potential first overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Andrew Luck.
Any Michigan fans hoping that the Wolverines would fire coach Rich Rodriguez and hire Jim Harbaugh should be very disappointed. ESPN's Chris Mortensen has reported that Harbaugh would take some job in the NFL or stay at Stanford before he would coach at Michigan, his alma mater.
Harbaugh has been in the process of creating a powerhouse at Stanford, and might finally be there. With the potential of winning a National Championship next year it would be foolish for Harbaugh to coach any other college team in 2011.
Since arriving at Stanford in 2007, Jim Harbaugh has improved this football team's overall productiveness every season. Take a look at the proof:
2007: 4-8 overall, 3-6 Pac-10
2008: 5-7 overall, 4-5 Pac-10
2009: 8-5 overall, 6-3 Pac-10; Lost in Sun Bowl
2010: 12-1 overall, 8-1 Pac-10; Won Orange Bowl
Harbaugh has done an excellent job recruiting for this university, and developing them into the powerhouse that they have become. With many head coaching vacancies in the NFL, Harbaugh will have quite a few teams to choose from which is not good for Stanford fans. But on the brighter side, it doesn't look like he'll coach any other college team if he does end up leaving Stanford.
Rob Ryan (defensive coordinator for Cleveland Browns)
University of San Diego Toreros
Record: 29-6 overall, 15-1 conference
Record: 29-21 overall, 21-15 conference
Lost the Sun Bowl in 2009 vs. Oklahoma Sooners (31-27)
Won the 2011 Orange Bowl vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (40-12)
2010 Woody Hayes Coach of the Year Award
(As a player) - 1995 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year
-Selected for Pro Bowl in 1995
-NFL All-Pro in 1995
I think it depends what Andrew Luck does. If Luck goes pro, then I think Harbaugh will follow, possibly being his NFL coach in the future.
If you've watched Luck and Harbaugh on the sidelines and in press conferences, they have supreme admiration and respect for one another. Although it is likely that they will not stay in Stanford, I would not be surprised at all if Harbaugh took the head coaching job in Carolina and drafted Andrew Luck with the first pick.
The chemistry that these two share could really be dominant at the next level and I think both of them realize that.